On Monday, March 7, 2016, St. Peter’s College Library was the site of a dynamic evening with Robert J. Sawyer, the only Canadian to have ever won all three of the world’s top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year.
Sawyer arrived on Day Six of his 2016 tour to launch his 23rd novel. He spent the afternoon writing in the Abbey guest library, and then mingled with students as he dined in the cafeteria. The supper conversation was lively as Sawyer jovially answered questions and discussed career paths with the future engineers, nurses, and a paleo-biologist, among others. When asked why he chose science fiction as his genre, Sawyer replied that, for one thing, it allows him to work in all other genres: science fiction mystery, science fiction romance, science fiction thriller, and so on. He can never exhaust the possibilities.
Despite terrible road conditions, by 7:00 p.m., every chair at the reading was full. Students, staff, faculty members, and monks were on hand, and the room roared with laughter and applause as Sawyer did not disappoint. He spoke with wonderful energy, pulled books off the library shelves to illustrate his points, discussed the field of hard science fiction, read from his new novel, and gave powerful replies to the wide variety of questions from the audience.
When asked what his muse was, Sawyer replied that writers who wait for the muse rarely get their work done. Writing is a job like any other, one he feels privileged to have, and he uses every spare moment to write or revise: he finds inspiration in working. He emphasized the importance of curiosity about all aspects of life, and said that he spends just as much time researching as he does revising.
Students are still talking about the reading. St. Peter’s stands out as the small college with its intimate, better-than-big-city events: Sawyer’s Canadian tour takes in Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, St. Peter’s College in Muenster, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Waterloo, Prince George, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Wasaga Beach. In the United States, he’ll be in Rye Brook, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
We wish Robert all success, and are extremely grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts funding that made his visit such a success.